By Jan Arcilla /Manila Times
The Department of Health (DoH) has said two persons suspected to have been infected with the novel coronavirus (nCoV) are under observation in two hospitals in Metro Manila, while several others are also being monitored in other areas.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said suspected cases of the 2019-nCoV were being monitored in Palawan (one), Camiguin (one), Kalibo in Aklan (three), Tacloban City in Leyte (one) and Cebu City (three).
He added that one case was in Pasay and another in Muntinlupa City.
Duque said the individuals being monitored are foreigners — Chinese, Brazilian, American and German.
The patients are isolated in various hospitals, he added.
The Health chief, however, maintained that the country has yet to have its first positive case of the nCoV.
Duque said initial results of the testing conducted on these patients would be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for further testing.
If the test yielded positive result for non-specific pancoronavirus, the specimen will be sent to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia.
“We do not have the capability to test 2019 n-CoV right now to identify the novel coronavirus, that is why we are sending them for confirmation in Australia,” Duque explained.
Despite Duque’s assurances that the country has no confirmed case of the new coronavirus, several private schools in Manila City and Quezon City suspended their classes.
On Monday, Hope Christian High School, St. Stephen’s High School and Uno High School in Manila City suspended their classes indefinitely.
Classes were also suspended at the Chiang Kai Shek (Algue and Narra campuses), Philippine Cultural College, Tiong Se Academy, St. Jude Catholic School (until Tuesday), San Lorenzo Ruiz Academy, Philippine Academy of Sakya, Pace Academy, Makati Hope College and Grace Christian College.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said schools had the discretion to suspend classes.
The new coronavirus had so far killed 81 people, triggering a global alarm.
On Monday, Germany advised its citizens to avoid China, while Mongolia closed its border and other nations raced to evacuate citizens trapped at the epicentre of the health emergency. In a sign of the mounting official concern, Premier Li Keqiang visited ground-zero to oversee containment efforts in Wuhan, a city of 11mn where the disease emerged late last month.
The government has sealed off Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, effectively trapping tens of millions of people, including thousands of foreigners, in a bid to quarantine the virus that struck amid the Lunar New Year holiday.
Twenty-four new deaths were confirmed in Hubei on Monday, and the southern island province of Hainan reported its first fatality, bringing the nationwide toll to 81.
More than 700 new infections were confirmed, while the number of suspected cases doubled over 24 hours to nearly 6,000. The youngest infected patient was a nine-month-old baby being treated in Beijing.
In Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the government was holding crisis talks with health experts to discuss the spread of the virus.
Malaysia on Monday also banned visitors from Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province.
The United States, France and Japan are among countries looking to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez said Madrid was working with Chinese authorities to repatriate about 20 Spaniards.
Germany is also considering the possible repatriation of its citizens in Wuhan.
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